- © DFL
- © DFL

Germany vs. Spain pits Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala against Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams


Heavyweights Germany and Spain will face off in the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2024 at Stuttgart’s MHPArena on Friday, with Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz on one side and Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal on the other.

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So far, Spain are the only team to win all four of their matches at this summer’s tournament. They have been dominant victories, too – Croatia were brushed aside in a 3-0 triumph, while Italy barely had a shot as they were beaten 1-0. With qualification already secured, the second string were called upon to beat Albania by the same scoreline in the final group game before the big-hitters returned for a routine 4-1 win over Georgia in the round of 16.

As Spain came from behind to dismantle the Georgians, Williams and Yamal were at their brilliant best. The former provided the assist for Rodri’s equaliser before netting his side’s third himself, while Yamal terrorised left-back Luka Lochoshvili and whipped in the sumptuous cross from which Fabián Ruiz put Luis de la Fuente’s men in front. Given their young ages – Williams, at 21, is a veteran compared to 16-year-old Yamal, who is the youngest-ever to play at a European Championship – they could potentially cause havoc for more than a decade.

As such, Germany will need to be wary of their talents. However, in Wirtz and Musiala, they have their own not-so-secret weapons who can turn the tide in their favour. The duo have continually grown in stature over the past few years to the point where they are not only key players for both club and country, but also amongst the very best Europe has to offer.

Watch: Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz - Germany's future

Musiala, in particular, has risen to the occasion at Euro 2024. Only Georgia’s Georges Mikautadze, Slovakia’s Ivan Schranz and Cody Gakpo of the Netherlands have scored as many as his three goals so far in this competition, and each of the Bayern Munich man's strikes have been clinical. The first was a close-range hammer in the 5-1 demolition of Scotland, while the second, against Hungary, displayed ruthlessness from a similar position.

It was his third, which came in the 2-0 round of 16 victory over Denmark, that was perhaps the most impressive. Running onto Nico Schlotterbeck’s delightful long-ball from the back, Musiala barely broke stride as he carried the ball into the penalty area before firing into the far corner with aplomb. Despite the pressure of the situation, a goal never seemed in doubt, such is Musiala's talent.

Watch: All of Musiala's 2023/24 Bundesliga goals & assists

Injuries deprived Musiala of a full campaign for Bayern in 2023/24, but that didn’t stop him from striking 10 times in 24 Bundesliga matches, also adding six assists. Had he been available more often, Bayern may well have been a lot closer to champions Bayer Leverkusen. After all, the 21-year-old was decisive as the Bavarians clinched the Meisterschale on the final day of the 2022/23 term, scoring a late winner against Cologne to snatch top spot at the death.

In all fairness, even if Musiala had been at his best very best domestically over the past 12 months, Leverkusen would still have taken some stopping. Die Werkself created history as they became the first team to finish a Bundesliga season unbeaten as they stormed to a maiden league title, ending up a huge 18 points ahead of third-placed Bayern. Right at the forefront of their charge was Wirtz, whose performances ultimately won him Bundesliga Player of the Season.

Watch: The story of Florian Wirtz

Only one of two players to manage at least 10 goals and 10 assists in the German top flight in 2023/24, the midfielder was often unplayable. There were plenty of stand-out moments – his goal against Freiburg in a 2-1 home victory was one of the strikes of the season, while his hat-trick from the bench in the 5-0 win over Werder Bremen secured Leverkusen’s status as champions.

Not content with making history at club level, Wirtz has written headlines for his country, too. As Germany defeated France 2-1 earlier this year, the former Cologne ace found the back of the net inside seven seconds, which set a new record for the quickest Germany goal of all time. And, as the hosts got Euro 2024 underway against Scotland, Wirtz picked up the tournament’s first goal, giving the home nation much-needed momentum in the process.

Match-winners on their own, the two showed in the group stage that they can also form a lethal partnership. After all, Germany enjoyed total control against both Scotland and Hungary and, with Julian Nagelsmann taking the opportunity to rest Wirtz against the Danes and give important minutes to Leroy Sané, Leverkusen’s jewel in the crown should be fresh, fit and at his playmaking best in Stuttgart.

"No, you the man!" - Jamal Musiala (l.) has been central to Germany's excellence at Euro 2024 under head coach Julian Nagelsmann (r.) so far. - INA FASSBENDER

There is also experience to consider. Yamal, after all, has just finished his first season in professional football, while Williams is yet to play European football for Athletic Bilbao. Musiala and Wirtz, meanwhile, have not only featured regularly in top-level continental competition, they have often been decisive – it is they, rather than their Spanish counterparts, who are more used to the pressure and expectation.

The scene is set for Nagelsmann’s superstars to live up to the hype and, in much the same way they have done with every test throughout their admittedly young careers, you wouldn’t bet against them passing the latest one with flying colours.